What to do when lawyers tell you "no face, no case"


How the Texas Family Code defines Family Violence  

In Texas, family violence is defined as an act by a member of a family or household against another member that is intended to cause physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault, or a threat that places the family or household member in fear of imminent harm. Dating violence also falls under the definition of family violence under Texas law.  

Please note: defensive measures to protect oneself are not included in the definition of family violence.  

When it comes to facing criminal charges for family violence in Texas, many people, and even some lawyers, believe that "no face, no case" is a golden rule. However, this is not the case. In this blog post, we will discuss family violence criminal cases in Texas, how the state can bring charges even when an alleged victim doesn't want to or refuses to appear in court, and the necessity of having skilled legal representation to navigate these charges. 

What Does "No Face, No Case" Mean? 

One common misconception about family violence cases is the belief that if the alleged victim doesn't want to prosecute or doesn't appear in court, there will be no criminal case or that the case will be dismissed. While this is a common belief among lawyers, it's not entirely true. The state has independent power and authority to bring charges against the individual, regardless of whether the alleged victim cooperates with the prosecution. These cases tend to be driven by the state's belief that they have sufficient additional evidence to prove the case, overshadowing the victim's reluctance to pursue charges. 

The attorneys at Winters & Chidester have experience as prosecutors in both misdemeanor and felony violence cases. Veronica was the chief prosecutor in the specialty family violence court for several years. She would often see defense attorneys misunderstand the hearsay exceptions that a prosecutor could rely on to prove their case, regardless of whether the victim was available to testify. This background perfectly positions them to know how to evaluate a case and stay ahead of the prosecution.  

The State's Role in Family Violence Cases  

In Texas, the responsibility of initiating criminal charges lies not with the alleged victim but with the state prosecutors. Generally, prosecutors aim to work collaboratively with the alleged victim to bolster their case; however, the proceedings can still progress in the absence of the victim's involvement. The state may even subpoena an uncooperative alleged victim.  

What If the Alleged Victim Wants Charges Withdrawn? 

Instances do occur where the alleged victim requests to withdraw the charges. However, the decision on whether charges will be brought comes down to the state prosecutors. Always remember: even if the alleged victim retracts their accusations, the implicated individual can still be subject to criminal trials and punitive consequences. 

Seek Legal Representation ASAP 

In Texas, family violence charges carry severe consequences, including fines, probation, mandatory counseling, and even jail time. Those convicted will also have a criminal record that can have long-lasting consequences, such as difficulty finding a job or obtaining a professional license. Therefore, having a competent criminal defense attorney on your side is essential to fight for your rights and defend you in court. 

If you are facing family violence assault charges and were told "no face, no case," we encourage you to take the following steps:  

  • Seek a Second Opinion: A different lawyer may have a varied perspective, more experience, or alternate strategies to handle your situation. It’s usually not as easy as getting an affidavit of non-prosecution.  
  • Gather Evidence: Start collecting all potential evidence related to your case. This could include communications, testimonies, or any other information proving your innocence or providing a context for the alleged incident. Give this information to your attorney.  
  • Prepare for a Possible Trial: Even though the alleged victim may not cooperate or says they will ask for charges to be dropped, the state can still bring up charges. Hence, mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for a potential trial. 
  • Refrain from Contacting the Alleged Victim: Avoid direct contact with the alleged victim, especially without legal counsel present. Your communications can be used against you in court. 

Our criminal defense team at Winters & Chidester knows the Texas penal code inside and out. We have defended thousands of cases and are prepared to guide you through your case. We are here to help you understand your charges, the possible outcomes, and your options for defense. 

Contact us online now to schedule a consultation. 

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